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Best Keto Supplements: What Supplements Should I Take On Keto?

Lindsay Malone MS, RDN, CSO, LD
12 - 14 MIN.

IN THIS ARTICLE
  • What Supplements Should I Take On Keto?
  • Best Keto Supplements
  • Best Keto Supplements For Weight Loss
  • Getting The Keto Diet Supplements You Need

What Supplements Should I Take On Keto?

05-05-20


So you’ve decided to go keto and you have the foods to eat and foods to avoid list down pat. But what about supplements? Keto supplements usually take a back seat but are as important as the food piece of the ketogenic puzzle. 

Jumping into supplements uninformed can be a recipe for disaster. So, buckle up for a simple primer on supplements and a rundown of what you need to include on a well rounded ketogenic diet.

What are supplements and why do I need them on keto?

Keto Supplements Story

When you hear the word supplement you probably instantly think of aisles of multi-colored vitamin and mineral bottles and the latest weight loss herbal concoction that Dr. Oz recommends. But supplements include more than just vitamins and minerals. 

Herbs, amino acids (building blocks of protein), botanicals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, fiber, and essential oils are some commonly used supplements that you might not think of in this category. They are called supplements because they provide nutrients and other components on top of what we already get from foods. 

Under normal circumstances, food can often be enough to meet your needs for vitamins and minerals. But, on the keto diet, where whole food groups are limited and major metabolic shifts are taking place, supplements can be hugely beneficial. 

Taking keto supplements can you help you: 

  • Avoid nutrition deficiency
  • Maintain hydration
  • Enhance exercise recovery
  • Minimize common side effects of ketosis

If you’re already following keto you know, entire food groups of otherwise healthy, high nutrient foods like beans, whole grains, and many fruits are eliminated due to their carb content. Replacing vital nutrients from these foods like potassium, magnesium, and fiber can help reduce negative health effects like low energy, muscle cramping, and constipation.

In addition, once the body starts burning fat for energy, and carbohydrates stores are depleted, many minerals required for good health and hydration are reduced as well. Adding keto supplements can replenish these minerals to help you stay well hydrated and more importantly, help your nervous system function smoothly. 

Supplements can also blunt the harsh reality of the keto flu and the unpleasant side effects that come with it such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation

Smart use of keto diet supplements can counteract these side effects and help you feel your best as you get into fat-burning mode. 

Finally, if you’re struggling with chronic health problems, supplements may help support the diet during your transition to good health. 

It’s no secret that many people jump on the keto train to resolve health issues. And with good reason, research shows that the keto diet can play a role in the lifestyle management of several common conditions including type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, acne, and Alzheimer’s disease. Supplements can provide components to improve blood sugar balance, gut health and brain health among other areas.

Best Keto Supplements

So what supplements should be on your radar as you start keto? As a Registered Dietitian it’s my duty to provide a few notes of caution here. 

First, if you have any health problems or take medication you should always consult your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure they are safe given your current state of health. Even natural supplements can interfere with medication. 

Second, supplements are not regulated like drugs in the US so brands do matter. The supplement company is responsible for making sure their product is safe and labels are accurate. The government does not test supplements before they go to market so you want to do your homework here. A good supplement brand will have methods in place to ensure high-quality standards like purity and potency. 

A few brands with high-quality standards and rigorous testing include Garden of Life, New Chapter, Solgar, Pure Encapsulations, Thorne, Metagenics, Designs for Health, Klaire Labs and Xymogen. Does this mean these are the only supplements you should buy? Not necessarily. Brand availability will vary by retailer but don’t let that slow you down. At minimum google a manufacturer for some basic information on how they ensure their products are safe and labeling is accurate.

Electrolytes
Electrolytes

Electrolytes are one of the most important considerations for keto diet supplements to keep the body running smoothly and to avoid short and long term health consequences.

Electrolytes (or lytes for short) are minerals in the body that get their name from the electrical charge they carry. You’ve likely heard of most of these minerals before and not realized they fall into the category of electrolytes. As far as the ketogenic diet, the most important to focus on are potassium, sodium, and magnesium.

Within the body, electrolytes play many important roles, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy fluid balance
  • Helping involuntary muscles like your heart and digestive tract run smoothly 
  • Carrying nerve impulses
  • Balancing the body’s pH level (also known as acid/base balance)
  • Moving waste out and nutrients into cells

The keto diet causes major metabolic changes within the body. The shift from burning carbs to burning fat for energy is the hallmark of ketosis and the reason many experience weight loss, boosts in energy, and cognitive clarity. But that initial weight loss isn’t only fat – in fact, much of it is water due to changes in fluid balance.

Fluid loss directly impacts electrolytes. As fluid leaves the body sodium, potassium and magnesium levels are reduced as well. This is why these specific electrolytes are an important focus of a healthy ketogenic lifestyle. 

Sodium
Sources of Sodium

Sodium is essential for human health and is required for normal cell function, fluid balance and nerve impulse transmission. You may not think of nerve transmission as a big deal but this is what keeps your heart beating!

For healthy individuals not on a low carb diet, normal sodium intake should be less than 2300 mg per day. Due to sodium depletion during ketosis, sodium needs actually increase to 3-5g daily

On a normal day, you’ll get about 2g of sodium from the food you’re eating. You can add extra salt to foods or incorporate high sodium foods like broth. A cup of broth or two pickles should add at least another gram of sodium. 

Experiencing headaches, fatigue or feeling weak? These are signs you may need more sodium. Keto-friendly food sources of sodium included below:

  • 1 tsp salt, 2300 mg
  • 1 cup broth, 995 mg
  • 2 oz beef jerky, 640 mg
  • ½ cup olives, 500 mg
  • 1 medium pickle, 500 mg
  • 2 tsp hot sauce, 380 mg

Does this qualify as a supplement? It's debatable for sure but sodium is a mineral and you do need to add a bit extra here and there to meet your needs, so it's reasonable to include as a point of focus on this list. 

Potassium

Potassium helps your cells regulate nutrients and waste products. Like sodium, it also helps the heartbeat stay regular.

During ketosis, your body gets rid of a little more potassium than normal through the urine. At the same time, many of your favorite potassium-rich, high carb fruits get the ax. So, you may need to add low carb potassium-rich foods or a supplement to make up the difference. 

Healthy adults need approximately 2600 mg (women) – 3400 mg (men) per day. Most people in the US do not get enough potassium, even when consuming potassium-rich foods and taking supplements that include potassium.

Some good food sources of potassium include:

  • 1 medium avocado, 1000 mg
  • 1 cup of cooked swiss chard, 950 mg
  • ½ tsp of Morton light salt, 700 mg
  • 1 cup cooked mushrooms, 550 mg
  • 1 cup broccoli, 560 mg

Over the counter and prescription potassium are available however, food first is the safest and most budget-friendly way to get in all the potassium you need. 

Magnesium
Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral. Have you ever taken an Epsom salt bath to relax or ease sore muscles? Magnesium is the magic ingredient that causes this reaction. That’s because magnesium is required for healthy nerve and muscle function and plays an important role in the body’s stress response system. In fact, low levels of magnesium are associated with heightened levels of stress and anxiety.  

Beyond regulating relaxation, magnesium has the important job of supporting immune function, building strong bones and maintaining both stable blood sugar and blood pressure.

Magnesium often flies under the radar as a mineral required for good health. Although it's in many foods, many Americans don’t get enough. Public health research shows that just shy of 50% of the population is missing out on adequate amounts of this super nutrient. 

Healthy adults following a ketogenic diet need around 300-500 mg of magnesium. Both foods and supplements can be sources of magnesium. Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • ½ cup cashews, 230 mg
  • 1 oz hemp seeds, 195 mg
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, 190 mg
  • 1 cup cooked swiss chard, 150 mg
  • 1 cup cooked spinach, 155 mg

Muscle cramps are a good indicator of low magnesium. If you have muscle cramps you may consider adding supplemental magnesium. There are many forms of magnesium supplements but the best for absorption are magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate. 

Magnesium citrate can have a laxative like effect, if this is your experience then magnesium glycinate might be a better choice for you. 

Electrolyte Combination Supplements

If you have a hard time getting in enough sodium, potassium or magnesium through foods, and don’t need the large boost of individual supplements then adding an all in one electrolyte formulation is a safe and effective way to get what you need. 

Electrolyte supplement formulations typically come in tablets or drops to add to water. They include a variety of electrolyte minerals and should contain minimal carbohydrates. Often these formulations are lower in electrolytes than the individual supplements so they are a good way to supplement food and gradually find your sweet spot. Be sure to read the package to check for added sugars and read the directions. You’ll want to follow them closely – it is possible to have too much of a good thing, especially with nutrients that regulate your heart. 

A few good product recommendations include:

  • Lyteshow
  • Nuun tablets
  • Klein athlete
  • Ultima replenisher
Vitamin D

Vitamin D is classified as a vitamin but actually acts a lot like a hormone. Vitamin D comes from foods (although not many foods are good sources) and your body also makes vitamin D from cholesterol when you spend time out in the sun. 

Unless you are spending a considerable amount of time outdoors without sunscreen or heavy clothing, you are likely not getting enough Vitamin D. About 40% of the US population is deficient

Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune health. Adults need a minimum of 600 IU per day but there is a lot of debate as to whether that recommendation is adequate. Some feel it is too low given the lack of outdoor time in our modern society. 

The goal of supplemental vitamin D is to take enough to get your vitamin D levels into the healthy normal range of ≥50 ng/mL - 125 ng/mL. Generally, this can be accomplished with around 1000-2000 IU per day of vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D. You may need more if you are severely deficient. If you can, get a baseline value so you know your starting point and how to best supplement. 

Vitamin D should be taken with the largest meal of the day. Fat helps shuttle vitamin D where it needs to go in the body so make sure your meal does have some fat. This is usually not a problem when following a keto diet. 

MCT

As far as keto supplements go, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are the shining star. MCTs are a safe and effective way to boost energy, enhance ketosis and improve weight loss. MCT’s also have natural antimicrobial properties that are beneficial for gut health. It comes in the form of a clear, odorless and flavorless oil that makes it easy to incorporate into meals, snacks, and beverages. 

What are MCT’s exactly? Unlike other fats that are shuttled through the lymphatic system, MCT’s are shorter chained fats that are rapidly digested and enter the bloodstream fairly quickly after eating. This means that they can be used for energy nearly immediately, fueling your cells, tissues and organs. And unlike a sugar high and crash that comes with other instant sources of energy like simple carbs and sweets, MCT’s do not raise and drop blood sugar so the crash is avoided.

MCT’s also enhance ketosis. The body converts MCT’s into ketones. Because ketones are the body’s primary energy source in a ketogenic diet, supplementing with MCT’s provides a nice steady stream of fuel and also raises the number of ketones in the blood and urine. Some studies show that supplemental MCT’s may get you into ketosis faster and reduce keto flu symptoms.

If you’re searching for keto supplements for weight loss, MCT’s may help. Research shows that MCT’s can improve weight loss by:

There are 4 types of MCT’s, and some are more readily absorbed and better tolerated than others. Avoid any GI upset by getting MCT’s that are mostly C8 like Bulletproof Brain Octane oil. 

MCT’s will meet some of your fat needs so you can use them just as you would other oils. Need some inspiration?


MCT is really easy to work with so you’ll have no trouble adding this one to your routine.

Fiber

The keto diet removes many sources of fiber like apples, beans, peas, and whole-grain bread. Sure, you can get fiber from low carb vegetables but it can be difficult, especially the type of fiber that helps improve constipation, a common side effect of the keto diet. 

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Technically both types help keep things moving in the digestive department but soluble fiber is the type most often missing from the keto diet. Supplementing with a good quality fiber can keep things regular and also ensure you’re getting the minimum requirement of 25-35 g per day. 

Many supplements on the market have fillers and sweeteners added to them that can interfere with ketosis and also cause gas (no thank you!). Organic acacia fiber is one of my favorites. Acacia fiber is slow to ferment so it won’t cause gas and it's also been shown to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Best Keto Supplements For Weight Loss 

Many keto dieters are looking to shed body fat. Some supplements are particularly good for promoting fat loss. First, let me review some highlights for some already mentioned here in this article. 

MCT’s

Many people have been conditioned to shy away from fat in weight loss efforts but we know this couldn’t be further from the truth with MCT’s. When incorporated as part of the diet and within calorie needs it can be quite useful in supporting weight loss. 

Incorporating MCT’s can help you feel full so you eat less, increase calorie burning and prevent fat storage. 

Another way that MCT’s can be helpful as a keto supplement for weight loss is providing an energy boost. Raise your hand if you’ve hit that 3pm slump and grabbed a handful of hershey kisses. Guilty as charged, right? In ketosis, MCT’s can provide a much needed energy boost to help you coast through that afternoon rough patch.

Fiber

We’ve already covered that fiber can improve digestion. But did you know that fiber can also help you feel full and satisfied and improve insulin response? Both of these effects can help with weight loss. 

A recent study showed that aiming for 30g of fiber daily was a reasonable and effective weight loss strategy. Why? Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. That’s why when keeping track of net carbs you subtract fiber, you don’t actually absorb it. Fiber in the digestive tract helps set off satiety signals and lets the brain know you’re full and satisfied. As a result, you’ll probably eat less. 

Even though you aren’t eating many apples now, consider for a minute the “fullness” factor of an apple vs apple juice. The whole apple is going to have about 5g of fiber whereas the juice will have 0. What is going to tide you over longer? 

Food is digested more slowly in the presence of the fiber. This has a favorable impact on blood sugar and insulin (a hormone that helps manage blood sugar). When blood sugar and insulin are stable and on the low end of normal, you’ll burn more fat for energy and you’ll experience fewer food cravings.

Incorporating a fiber supplement is a fool proof way to consistently get the amount of fiber you need. 

Getting The Keto Diet Supplements You Need

I know, you want the practical information! Where do I get the supplements, already??? It’s actually fairly easy to get the keto supplements you need, no matter where you go. Many of the most common retailers are well stocked for keto customers.

Keto Supplements at Walmart

Keto Supplements on Amazon

Keto Supplements at Walgreens

Keto Supplements at Sprouts

Sprouts online ordering is through Instacart.com.

  • Solgar Vitamin D3 1000 IU
  • Solaray Magnesium Glycinate
  • Solgar Magnesium Citrate
  • Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Fiber
  • Nuun Tablets
  • Ultima Replenisher

Get Started and Feel Amazing with Keto Supplements

Keto supplements are an integral part of a well formulated ketogenic diet. Supplements help reduce likelihood of nutrient deficiency, improve bowel function, enhance weight loss efforts, improve energy levels and likely reduce the negative side effects of the keto flu. What’s not to like?

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Lindsay Malone, MS, RDN, CSO, LD
Lindsay Malone is a Functional and Integrative Medicine dietitian empowering individuals to take charge of their health with evidenced-based nutrition information.

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